What's a ground-breaking announcement without a nice model of the thing that you want to build? Above is what the future SolarCity solar panel 'gigafactory' that will be built in Buffalo in the state of New York will look like, at least as far as we can tell. It could still change like the Tesla Gigafactory, which went from looking like this to the much cooler design seen here.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held an event with other official to make the official announcement for the SolarCity gigafactory that was first announced here:
“We said four years ago that we have to change the mentality of Buffalo, and every day since we have been working hard to continue this new energy and momentum in Western New York. Less than a year after announcing our original plan, one of the leading solar companies in the world is coming on board and making this the largest advancement for Buffalo's economy in a generation," Governor Cuomo said. “This is bigger than anything we could have imagined. It is the perfect metaphor for Buffalo, where the fundamental strength was the available hydropower. That hydropower now, that renewable energy now, will fuel the renewable energy industry for the future. I am incredibly proud that the state is playing a role in this project, because Buffalo’s future is New York’s future, and today that future is brighter than ever.”
On a previous conference call, River, the CEO of SolarCity, said: "If we can get the cost of solar below the cost of fossil fuels without incentives, the market size for that is basically infinite over the next 30-40 year."
They're thinking big!
The gigafactory will be located at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, a site owned by the State University of New York's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
SolarCity will create over 1,450 direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility, and employ more than 2,000 additional workers in the state to provide solar services in the next five years. The facility will create more than 1,400 manufacturing support and service provider jobs in addition to the jobs that SolarCity creates directly.
SolarCity will spend $5 billion over the next decade for the construction and operation of the 1.2 million-square-foot facility and New York State will invest a total of $750 million. The factory will be online and in high volume manufacturing as early as the first quarter of 2016.
The idea with the solar gigafactory is to not only help drive down the cost of panels, but also to make more efficient ones so that fewer can be used to produce the same amount of power:
An even more affordable supply of solar panels, combined with a cheap supply of advanced lithium-ion batteries, could - together - help realize the vision recently described by SolarCity's Lyndon Rives:
"Thanks to the economies of scale that will come from Tesla's gigafactory, within 10 years every solar system that SolarCity sells will come with a battery-storage system, says Mr. Rive, and it will still produce energy cheaper than what is available from the local utility company."